DES MOINES, Iowa — Many – but not all – in the crowd cheered as presidential wannabe Senator Marco Rubio, R.-Fla., reported that God demands free enterprise and small government. The audience was about 200 mostly white folks crammed into a room at the Ramada Inn.
Rubio asked them to vote for him in the Republican caucuses to be held February 1.
He said that he understood and agreed with the deep anger felt by many people, but that “anger is not a plan.”
He said he was the only Republican candidate with a proven record of using governmental processes to undermine government functioning.
Rubio pledged to do away with the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Education. He said that in his first day in office, he would repeal the “illegal and unconstitutional” executive orders issued by President Obama, especially those protecting immigrants.
Furthermore, he said, “With a simple majority vote in the House and Senate and my signature, Obamacare is gone forever.” He claimed to have an alternative, but said that because the temperature in the room was getting hot, he would not bore the crowd with details. He suggested people check out his website.
Rubio’s “plan” is to give Americans a series of tax refunds for the purchase of health insurance. He doesn’t say how people with low incomes and low tax rates would be able to pay in the first place.
In any case, he told the crowd in the Ramada that America is “so exceptional” because “it was founded on the idea that our rights come from God, not from government. It’s because of that powerful truth that we embrace free enterprise and that we embrace small government … and [that] we became the freest and most powerful nation in the history of all mankind.”
Rubio accused President Obama of wanting to “change America … to be more like the rest of the world.”
Many in the audience – but not all – dutifully booed.
Rubio was calm and collected. One undecided voter in the crowd described him as “smooth.” He sported the zip-up fleece sweater being worn by all the Republican candidates. It’s supposed to say “I’m just plain folks.”
In fact, Rubio accurately described the plight of many working people. He said “that jobs today do not pay what they used to,” and that many people “have simply given up looking for work.”
He said he himself had been burdened by a $100,000 student loan, which he recently paid off. He did not say how.
Nor did he mention the fact that his campaign is being financed by the Koch Brothers and by Norman Braman, a Miami billionaire who once owned the Philadelphia Eagles and now sells BMWs, Rolls-Royces and Bugatis.
In a New York Times interview, Rubio described Braman as “a father figure” who had given him advice on everything, from “what books to read to how to manage a staff.”
Rubio’s proposal for ending unemployment and raising wages spoke louder than his sweater about his plan for working people.
His plan: end regulations on business, cut taxes for the rich and shrink government.
He did not explain how shrinking government squared with his plan to hire “20,000 more border guards.”
And he did not explain how his Administration would finance anything at all after cutting taxes for the rich and giving tax refunds for health insurance.
Maybe he plans to default on America’s debt. He’s fought increases in our debt limit every year he’s been in the Senate.
We interviewed several members of the audience before and after Rubio’s speech. Most said they were undecided and that they were attending the rallies of as many different candidates as possible before making up their mind.
A voter named Grace said, “I’m interested in taxes; I’m interested in security. There are a lot of social issues I disagree with the [Republican candidates] on.
“I actually kinda like Rubio, but my lovely husband is leaning toward Bernie.
“Both of us are very confused about the Republican stance on Obamacare and why they think its such a terrible thing.”
A man named Scott is also undecided, but he’s leaning toward Mike Huckabee because he wasn’t afraid to bring people who disagreed with him onto his television show.
Scott said that the candidate who “could be near the top of [his] list,” John Kasich, hasn’t bothered to come to Iowa.
Asked why he liked Kasich, Scott said he perceived him as a “medium kind of guy” in temperament and policy. He valued being able to see both Kasich and Huckabee handle controversial subjects on their Fox TV shows.
A voter named Tom who lives in Des Moines said he understands that Republicans have to “pander to their base” and that it’s “all a show.”
All of the interviewees said they’re worried about the current frontrunner, Donald Trump because he seems to be all bombast and no substance.
Grace said “anyone but Trump. We just don’t know what he’s going to do.”
Photo: Earchiel Johnson | PW